Traditional Inshad Dini ("religious hymnody") = Islamic religious hymnody; sometimes known simply as inshad, nashid (nasheed, nasyid) or anashid.
The words "musiqa" or "ghina'" are avoided for religious material such as inshad, adhan, tilawa, du`a'.
Inshad or nashid are standard terms in Arabic; other cultures may adopt these also, or use related terms for genres that fulfill nearly identical social roles, and carry the same themes (but may use different languages or musical styles), e.g. in South Asia there is "qawwali" (inshad) or "na`t" (praise).
The performer of inshad or nashid (nasheed) is called a munshid, and if specialized is a respected religious figure. Performance centers on a religious poem, performed using local musical resources, but not recognized as music. Often musical instruments are avoided also. Inshad draws upon languages and dialects around the world; it is meaning (rather than text) which is crucial (unlike Qur'an or adhan). Yet Arabic always retains its special sacred status (and sometimes Arabic terminology comes to acquire a religious meaning outside the Arab world, e.g. the word "qasida" (Ar. poem) which comes to mean "religious poem" in SE Asia.
The most common poetic themes are:
- ibtihalat or du`a': supplications to God
- tasbih or tamjid or takbir: glorification of God
- madih or na`t: devotional praise, usually to the Prophet Muhammad
- wa`z: exhortations directed to the listener
- qisas: narratives, usually sira nabawiyya (stories of the Prophet's life, recited especially for his birthday, mawlid)
- `ilm, fiqh, shari`a: doctrinal statements (in mnemonic form)
Despite conceptual separation, there was always a close relation between singing (ghina') and devotional forms up until the mid 20th century, since voices were honed in Qur'anic recitation and inshad, and because inshad conveyed respectability. Singers often carried the title "shaykh" as a form of religious respect. Only with commercialization and educational reform was this link broken, in the mid 20th century.
It is difficult to separate "inshad dini" (religious inshad) from "inshad Sufi" (Sufi inshad); the latter is mainly distinguished by context, behavior, and intention, since the themes overlap to a great extent.
- degrees of separation: music and religion. What kind of "music" is appropriate in a religious context?
- Islamic movements: reformist Islam (Salafi, Wahhabi...) and traditional Islam ("Sufi")
Examples, mostly from Egypt
- Tawashih diniyya. Performed by Shaykh Muhammad al-Fayyumi and his bitana (chorus). Tawashih
involve alternation between solo (munshid) and chorus (bitana); the former improvisatory, the latter more precomposed and quasi-metric. From Sono Cairo 75113/461. This style was responsible for training many performers, who started out in the bitana.
- Mawlid. Listen to a typical mawlid
The mawlid is a celebration of the Prophet Muhammad's birth, including devotional singing; it is frequently recited in the mystical orders of Islam, the turuq Sufiyya - in this case the Hamidiyya Shadhiliyya order of Egypt. There are many mawlid texts, comprising poetry and prose; they can be chanted or sung, solo or group. Several of the famous Arabic texts are the mawlids of Barzanji, of Manawi, and the Burda of al-Busiri. They may be performed for the Prophet's Birthday (12 Rabi`a al-Awwal) or on other occasions (religious holidays, or life cycle occasions).
Here is an example of mawlid from Jedda, in Saudi Arabia.
Perhaps the most famous Islamic poem of all time (and perhaps the most widely known poem in any language) is a mawlid, the "Burda" of Sharaf al-Din al-Busiri (1211–1294) Here's a traditional recitation of the Burda in Pakistan.
For more information on inshad dini in Egypt, see the following: Inshad Dini and Aghani Diniyya in Twentieth Century Egypt: A Review of Styles, Genres, and Available Recordings, an article from MESA Bulletin
More contemporary versions of inshad are called nashid (nasheed) and tend to be closer to popular songs in their production values, often accompanied by a music video, though with a strictly religious focus.
The Burda is a truly global genre. Because the text is always the same, comparing Burda performances across history and culture provides a good opportunity to contrast sonic and pragmatic aspects of this key aspect of Islamic language performance.
(ranging from traditional to contemporary popular styles)